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So, I got some fall planting done today. Some of it is a little late, probably should have happened two weeks ago but it was so hot I couldn't bring myself to do it. Poor seedlings would keel over in the heat and so would I.

I basically cleaned out my seed box, so I don't know how well all of this is going to do. Especially the carrots. I've tried them in spring with no success.
Mokum Carrots
Red Chantenay Carrot
Early Wonder Tall Top Beet - three rows
Purple Top White Globe Turnip - one row (why yes, I like beets and beet greens better than turnips)
Cucumber Straight Eight (Bot Interest brand seeds, don't know how well these will germinate)
Pumpkin Warty Thing (Bot Interest again, from the grocery store...hrm)
And, in an act of defiance, Cannellini Beans. This is the wrong time to plant them, but they were in my seed box and I want to wait on the kale and chard so I pitched a row in. We'll see how that goes.

I didn't realize till I read the extension booklet that cucumber was a fall crop here. I had wondered about when their growing season was. I wish it was a summer thing, but I expect they get bitter in the summer (I don't blame them for that, I am getting bitter and stir crazy myself in the heat).

I'm going to put a net up to keep the deer off this bed, and I'm thinking of finally building a cold frame for it too, so I can have kale in the winter. All of these frames I've checked out on the web look so elaborate, I think its silly. I'm planning on making a rectilinear frame and stapling sturdy plastic to it. I can just lift the whole thing off when I want to get at the plants, it'll be light enough.
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I really wish I had gotten around to getting the strawberry bed in this spring, but next year. I at least have the spot picked out now.

I planted some summer bulbs. Three kinds of glads: atom, abyssinian, and envy. And a couple of crocsmia, Antique Montbretia and Meteor. I really hope some of them make it. Unfortunately, some of them got unearthed after I planted them, by cats I think. They didn't get eaten so I'm thinking its not rodents. And the feral cats, for all that they mess up my beds, do keep the rodents away, I really suspect its the cats using the beds as a litter box and kicking things around.

The squash and okra (its red okra, I'm planting it as an ornamental mostly) didn't come up. The okra I get, it really wants it warm and I have seeds left so I'll give it a go in a couple of days and try again (and I'll let them soak for a full 24 hours, I did soak the first time but I'm not sure about the timing). The squash is a little mysterious, but I'll give it another go next week as well. I was hoping to find thai peppers in plant form but no dice, I only found seeds. But the growing season here is long enough that I think I can pitch them in and they'll produce by first frost. And I need to do another round of beans, I'm staggering them to prevent bean overload and lengthen the harvest, since my hubby doesn't really like string beans.

I still need to plant the poor roses I rescued as rejects from my nursery job last year. Poor tough as nails dears. I think I'll reserve a day next week and get those planted, finally. I'm just not sure about how I want to structure my hedge, more interspersed species or homogenous.

I kind of took a yard break this week, I'll pick up again next week. I'm feeling pretty good about the garden beds. The lawn is a problem, I hate the whole notion of a lawn, for the most part, and now its been ripped up by the tree we had taken out. I tried seeding some bald spots, but without constant watering I don't think they'll sprout. Not sure about trying again, I think maybe in fall I'll give it another go. Given my negligent mowing (which is partly deliberate, I'm enjoying the yellow buttercups that have sprung up as weeds and don't want to mow them down), there may be some seeding in from grass gone to seed too. But this is definitely, even with the lawn, the best the beds have been so far (so out of three years now)- unemployment is good for the garden if not my mental health. Next year will go even more smoothly I think, as I won't be adding a ton of soil to the beds in addition to everything else. I'm looking forward to that.
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I am completely overwhelmed at this point with even prepping the garden. I need to add a side bed and plant about 5 shrubs and trees, I'm stressed about pulling the trigger on putting those in, its kind of a huge decision. I have about 4 cubic yards of compost/topsoil mix to distribute. And the trellises need to go up and the one bed will get deer proofed.

I'm still wondering about doing battle with the squash beetles again, ugh, to squash or not to squash. I get my tomatoes as seedlings from the farmers market, I hope they have Sungolds, that was a problem last year.

These are my seed orders, I hate starting seedlings so I get seeds that can be direct sown.

From Baker Creek:
Perpetual Spinach Chard
Envy - Zinnia Meteor - Zinnia
Hill Country Heirloom Red Okra
Dragon Tongue Bush Bean
Golden Wax Bush Bean
Crookneck Squash - Early Golden Summer
Eskimo Marigold

From Natural Gardening Company:
Love-in-a-Mist (OG)
Moonsong Deep Orange Sunflower
Lemon Gem Marigold (OP)
Empress Of India Nasturtium (OP)
Calendula Sunshine Flashback (OG)
Benary's Giant Zinnia - Deep Red
Thai Basil Seed (OG)
Borage (OG)
Waltham Butternut (OG)
Queen Sophia Marigold (OP)

I don't think I'll use up my non-flower seed packets (except the chard), if there are seeds someone wants I can send my extras (since y'all plant a month after me it should work out). Heck, there may be some flower packets I don't use up, the calendula is kinda huge.
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So, my remaining summer crops got nailed by frost last night. I considered covering them and letting them limp along a bit longer, but since its into November I decided they had to go sometime. And since the tomatoes were pretty much long gone the basil wasn't doing much for me anyway.

The only thing I lament is the pumpkin, who hadn't finished producing its one glorious white pumpkin yet- its big enough that I'll still roast it and use it for making bread and soup though. I put that guy in far to late. Next year I'll start it in July if I want October pumpkins.

As I was picking the frost bit basil (I think it'll still be fine for pesto) I collected the remaining little bell peppers (there were four, I hadn't realized there were any). I am confused as to why they were so tiny. Next year I'm growing more hot peppers, those did well and it was nice because I rarely needed more than one at a time, so the plant and I kept pace with one another. I want to grow some bird's eye thai peppers and make this relish/sauce of pickled peppers I had at Twisted Noodle. Till then I purchased a few at the Asian Market to experiment with.

Now I've got to pull up the plants, stick em' in the compost heap, rake leaves and bury them in the garden beds, anoint the beds with the compost I bought, and stick a cover crop of purple clover in (I probably waited too long for that, oh well). My winter crops (parsnips, beets, chard, kale) look fine but they are really slow growing. I should probably thin the parsnips a bit more.

I read some Wendell Berry last night, looking for a good piece to assign for my class next week. It was so soothing. He is like a good great Uncle or something. And he articulates so well the reasons why I'm so angry about the business/market orientation that higher education is turning to. I'll talk about that in a later post, I think.

Good lord I have too much to do. I don't get weekends very often, yesterday I spent about 7 hours on writing a lecture and looking for course materials and today is much of the same. If I calculate things out by the hour I'm making less than minimum wage. I think those employed as adjuncts collectively need to say "no" to this nonsense. Which again, is another post. Trying to stay perky and not wrathful today. Time to get back to work. Laundry beckons.
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So, I spent 20 dollars at Niche this weekend, they were having a sale. I got two purple columbine, another phlox, a strange ground cover rose (this was foolish, I was attracted by weirdness and now I'm not sure where to put it, my original thought on placement won't work I don't think), and a creeping jenny for my "cage match" bed (I have a garden bed where I am putting all the things that tend to go out of control- like mint and lemon balm and so forth- I call it the "cage match bed" because the plants will fight! fight! fight!).

Then I placed an order at Old House for Festivus Maximus peonies (3 of them) and some purple allium bulbs. I had thought to only get one peony, but I think three is better, I'll spread them around and one spot should work out for them, I hope.

There went my resolution to keep the non-edibles in my garden to a minimum. Ooops. But I may make perfume with the peonies, so I feel justified about those at least.

And there will be more. I need to get blueberry bushes, four of them (I'm hoping Southern States will have a nice selection of varieties, I will need at least two kinds for berries). Aaaand. I'm going to mail order a witch hazel. There seem to be things hopping into the cart with the witch hazel, though. Like a service berry tree (so cute!). And I'm even pondering a fringe tree. There is one growing on the lot next to us, and it is a lovely tree, it smells like heaven. But I'm not sure I want to spare the space for it. I do want a tree peony at some point (not this year, they cost a fortune) and there is only so much sunny space I've got for it. Hmmm... sigh. I will ponder this.


Jul. 12th, 2010 07:00 pm
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We have returned to our home base. Big thanks to [ profile] borea and hubby for taking care of our kitties and my plants.

It was an uneventful trip home, but long, we didn't make it back till 2 AM. We discovered that, yes, even in the dark, we still find Hwy 52 in VA very cute (if a bit nerve wracking due to not playing by the google map directions very well... picked it up far too soon... listening to "Banjos and Bongos" on that leg of the trip was soothing though). I expect we are going to make a point to head back up that way at some point, maybe for camping in the fall.

I have come to realize that working from home and working so much on my home means that when I return home its like going back to work, with accompanying post trip let down. That really stinks.

Oh, and the deer have officially discovered my tomato plants. Stupid deer. Hoof prints and half eaten tomatoes tell the tale. Now I really need to get that fence in. Along with all the other crap that needs doing. Oy oh boy. My garden isn't really that great this year, but the zinnias are pretty at least. Next year will be better, I'll have compost to work in and I'll space things more closely.
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I ate something from my garden on Wednesday. A purple jalapeno. Not as zingy as I would have liked. My sister-in-law visited this weekend and ate a bunch of salad greens too. And it looks like I'll have tomatoes soon (though with my luck they'll ripen when I'm in MN). I still have two beds to finish (the cage match mint and lemon balm bed and the ??? shade so maybe ferns bed), and some perennials to purchase to fill out my ornamental bed. Next year I'm going to plant more densely in the beds. The bed with the four peppers and slow growing basil is far too sparse.

Headaches have been okay. I went back on a restrictive diet to see if that might help. I'm actually okay with no caffeine, no alcohol, no chocolate and no or at least minimal aged cheese diet restrictions. But no vinegar is a PITA. And I'm trying to reduce my soy sauce consumption. There is no way I'm eliminating soy sauce, that's just not even possible. I should eliminate citrus, but I really don't think that's a trigger and I eat so little citrus its staying. I'm also trying to increase variety and not eat wheat products every day. And be very minimal about sugar and other sweet stuff, which I was anyway but now I'm getting serious about it. Erg. Now I'm hungry.

I'm enjoying watching the World Cup. Bless for Univision streaming it, I'd not be able to watch otherwise. One thing I'm scratching my head about- why does FIFA always introduce a new ball for World Cup? Its really nutty. Like, "oh, we'll change the shape of the football right before the superbowl" ridiculous! I also really hope they arranged it so even if S and N Korea advance, they won't be facing each other before getting knocked out. Can you imagine a S vs. N Korea game? It would be so fraught as to be nauseating.

This upcoming week feels so daunting. I have a lot of work catching up to do. I must be a good boss of myself and get it done.

Okay, going to eat yogurt now. Yummy yummy yogurt with maple syrup.
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Everything has been derailed by headaches for the last month. As of today I've had 3 migraine/headache free days with only low nausea. This is the longest free stretch for at least a month, if not a month and a half. I'm continuing with acupuncture. I am about to pull the trigger on the Topomax, if things ramp up again, but I'm going to try to finish as many writing projects as I can before I do (major side effect of Topomax: loss of words). I've got one tiny (so tiny its a challenge) edited volume chapter to finish, I want to get at least 2 weeks of my Hist Eco class lectures done, and I need to finish my chunks of the article I'm co-authoring. So it'll be three weeks, at a minimum.

So I've been stunningly anti-social as a result of all the headaches.

And I can't seem to get anything done. It is appalling. I still haven't gotten all the garden beds done. I have hopes of finishing this week. The soil I had trucked in sight unseen needs so much work its just outrageous. Fortunately I have lots of leaves to compost. But things are growing. I have lettuce. The tomatoes have fruit growing. The silly little potted Kaffir Lime has finally, finally decided to grow after a year of just sitting there with two large leaves and nothing else. And the fig starts mes amis [ profile] borea and Eric kindly brought me lost all their leaves but are happily popping out new ones.

In politics... oh Richard Burr, our incumbent senator officially announced his re-election campaign. Such the money bags, 19 million raised all ready (were he to give all that to Gulf clean-up I might vote for him). Is there any hope of defeating him? Probably not. Which is a damn pity.

And this Helen Thomas rail-roading out is sad. I feel so bad for her. Can no one speak their mind anymore? Are journalists not allowed to be against Palestinian occupation? (I have decidedly mixed feelings about the occupation myself) Yes, her phrasing was poor, but she's 89 years old and speaking off the cuff is not always going to be polished at 89.

Erg. I don't think I like millet, I'll have to agree with the ancient Romans on that one. I'm trying to vary my diet more so I made millet and mixed veggies for lunch instead of the usual pasta, and its not sitting well in my tummy. Any one out there have any millet recipes that are likely to improve my opinion?

Ah, washing machine is done. Time to put the wash out on the line.
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I haven't been posting much because I've been ill. So has Jj, lately. I think this weekend we finally beat it back and I feel back to "normal." Sort of. I'm still nauseous, which makes me worried. I hope this is not a new symptom for which nothing can be done and no explanation can be found. I have enough of those. On the other hand, I don't want it to be anything bad either- much better inexplicable than possibly terminal.

I started acupuncture for chronic migraines. There are a passel of peer reviewed studies out there that show it is better than a placebo or sham acupuncture for reducing headaches. And the drug options I have left for prevention (Topamax, Depakote) are pretty grim as far as side effects. So acupuncture it is. And I have to say, it hurts. Anyone who is like, oh, it doesn't really hurt is just fibbing. All I've noticed so far is I'm getting better sleep, which is nice. Still getting the headaches though. But I'm willing to give it time, I just started this week.

I haven't finished the garden beds, or the fence, the compost bins, getting the gutter up, or removing the poison ivy. The house needs a complete cleaning. I have a ton of academic related stuff to do. Being down for the count for nearly two weeks has really thrown me off. I'm scared to really do up a to do list because I know its going to be a multi-page nested list nightmare at this juncture. Ugh. But my schedule is pretty flexible, so I have some room to be social, which is nice.

There were little outings into the world here and there, after which I'd go home and fall over again. But one of note was visiting this place and its gardens:
The plants there are kind of pricey, but I've never seen so many interesting varieties of hellebores before. I got a few sweet williams and and interesting white salvia from Texas. I enjoyed that outing.

Now... must resist temptation to go out to brunch... ooooh I want biscuits. And I don't have the makings of them here. I also really want to try Watts Grocery. That would be really naughty, however, as we had out to eat at the Indian Food Truck (its a bus, with Indian food, near Duke) last night.
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Woo hoo! Seeds have sprouted. Lettuce, a few from the "Baby Blues" mix of flowers, and zinnias are all popping. Darn Marigolds seem to have had an epic fail, as did the basil. Not a peep from them. I have more seeds on order from a cheaper more reliable source to replace them. I need to plant my squash and melons w/nasturtiums today. I've got five of my 11 beds full and going at this point. My goal is to finish the beds by Friday, and on Saturday I'm going to formalize our casual composting situation by making an actual bin.

I am really worried about this soil. It has a lot of glass in it and is very sandy. I ordered a mycorrhizae mix to anoint it with which will hopefully help. The compost can't be ready soon enough.

I am also worried about the neighborhood cats, who have decided that my garden beds are, in fact, the best litter boxes ever. My hope is that after the plants get going the cats will lay off. Cat pee is poisonous to plants. The local cat population is worrisome. They live with benign neglect, for the most part. This is part of living in a semi-rural area. But I've tried to encourage the neighbors to take responsibility for the cats they are feeding, at least they should get them spayed. The spraying of my house area by the neighbor cats is driving my indoor kitties bonkers (and the vet confirms this). I've talked to the neighbors, and they say "oh, we really aren't pet owners..." So that's why you feed the cats? And didn't take them to the shelter when they were kittens and had a chance of adoption? I'm tempted to call animal control on them, this is what the vet encourages me to do, but I really don't want to start trouble. Our neighbors are nice, otherwise.
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On a whim, I googled to see if there were any new Monster Ranchers coming out because that is the game I have a yen to play, but I don't really want to revisit any of the old ones... except maybe Two. I should dig out my memory cards and see if I can't get Two rolling. As if I should be playing anything right now, what with the house chores, the papers I owe people and the emails I should return, but that's beside the point. I found upon googling that Monster Rancher is coming out with a new one for the DS!!! Joy!!! The current gen console I've got is the DS.

Speaking of, even as my household plunges into fiscal ruin (oh, the plumbing, the plumbing) the Wii has been calling me. I can get a refurbished one for around 150. But games are so pricey... oh I shouldn't. Especially with my current back log of games. And I haven't even gotten all the games I want for the DS (like Rune Factory).

Today I finished one garden bed and bought many plants which I planted (tomatoes and herbs - I hope to save seeds from these tomatoes and start my own next year, even though I hate starting plants from seed). It was nice to go to the farmers market to get them and now we've got chorizo for supper too. I've got six tomato plants in one bed, and a bunch of herbs in half of another bed. I keep waffling on what to plant around the tomato plants, but I think my original plan of marigolds (from seed) will win out. The bed I'm going to finish tomorrow will have peppers, purple basil (from seed) and red zinnias (from seed). And I finally need to just go ahead and pick a bed for the salad greens and get those in tomorrow as well. And make a decision, I planted some daylillies and irises kind of haphazardly last year, and I should probably move them, but I'm not sure they will like that much. I don't care as much about the iris (they are tough) but losing the daylillies would bug me. Debate, debate, debate... I will make a decision tomorrow. Time to go make chorizo and red sauce w/whole wheat fusili pasta for dinner.


Apr. 12th, 2010 11:43 am
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So, we now have nine yards of dirt to distribute into my 10 garden beds. The garden beds are being constructed with landscape lumber. Which everyone says you aren't supposed to grow veggies in, and disqualifies me for organic certification, which is mildly annoying, but there's no changing it now. The logs will leach some copper and some fungicide (the lumber is treated with micronized copper azole). The fungicide gets sprayed on conventionally grown plants and is okay in Europe (I trust the EU to test things over the US hydra headed system of confusion) and if the plants uptake enough copper to hurt me, the plant will die before I can eat it. So I'm disinclined to worry about it too much. Also, my folks grew things in beds made from the copper arsenic treated lumber (which is the more toxic precursor to the micronized copper azole) and I'm not dead. And I am going to plant my flowers around the edges, where the most leaching will occur. Anyway... this rambling is not why I am posting.

The dirt delivery guy did a great job of offloading the dirt onto the tarp and not on the driveway and I praised him for it. It occurs to me, however, that perhaps I ought to have tipped him? Did I do wrong? Ugh. I hate messing up with the tipping. I hope he wasn't expecting one, because he did do a nice job, and I'd hate to have dissed him. If I did maybe I'll send a little note to the company praising him, at least that'd be something.
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Three Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon holly) trees, one Mayhaw tree (Crataegus sp.- a kind of hawthorn), and several black berry bushes (Cherokee and Kiowa varieties- according to the USDA, those varieties are good for the area). I'm really excited about them. Yaupon holly is related to Ilex paraguensis, or Yerbe mate, and as such it has caffeine. If the world goes up in smoke and I have to subsist from my yard, I will at least have a caffeine source. The mayhaw is a really cute tree whose fruit are edible (in the way persimmons are, you have to cook them and sugar them but they are supposedly tasty). The black berries... I'm not sure about them, I couldn't figure out the perfect place to plant them. We'll see how they do. They were cheap, so worse case I get some more and try a different spot.

After I get my order of bulbs (I'm trying to keep most things I'm planting edible, but I can't resist bulbs) and stick them in the ground I'll be done with the planting for this season. Erg. I say that and then I remember I wanted to get a witchhazel in the ground if possible. Hm. Most likely done with planting, but if I find a good witchhazel that'll go in.

The next projects will be building some garden beds and fencing them, which is big, but the deadline is by the end of February, so I think it'll happen.


Sep. 5th, 2009 12:31 pm
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I just ordered these irises from Schreiner's. They are having a sale. I did this as an act of faith that I will have a yard to garden in by the end of the week. So excited!


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